“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17, ESV)
One of our common holiday traditions is exchanging gifts. But why do we exchange gifts? It all goes back to why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate that God gave us the gift of Jesus. Jesus is the greatest gift that has ever been given in the history of the world.
It all starts in Genesis. God created the heavens and the earth. He made it all. Furthermore, he creates humanity in his image. He declares it all to be good. And when he creates humanity, he emphasizes it is very good.
He sets his commandments in place. He tells the man and the woman not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As long as they submit themselves to God’s will, all would be well. There would be joy and peace on earth.
But the man and woman would exchange the goodness of God for disobedience and hostility. They rejected God’s command. They did the very thing he told them not to do. They ate the fruit of the tree.
There were consequences to their action. The result was a broken world. First, there would be a broken relationship with God. It continued with broken marriages, broken families, broken individuals and more. Division, conflict, and violence mark the interactions of nations and races.
How does God respond? Think about what you might do if you purchased an incredible gift for another person. You put a lot of thought and effort into it. When the other person received that gift, they tossed it in the garbage. Worse yet, they spit in your face. How would you respond? What would you do? Would you ever give that person a gift again?
What is amazing about God is that he does not give up on us. His gift-giving is not dependent on our gratitude. He exchanges our hostility for grace. From the moment the man and woman fell into sin, God sets into motion a plan of salvation. There is a reason it is called history. It is “His”-story. And history would culminate in the gift of Jesus.
That is why we call it amazing grace. It is an unfair exchange. God is always giving good things. We seem to return something far less.
We praise God for his incredible gifts of life, salvation, and eternal life.
- Have you ever felt that a gift you gave was not appreciated? How did you feel?
- What are some appropriate responses to the gifts God gives us?
Father, you gave us our lives and everything we have. You have given us amazing grace. But we confess that we have not always lived in ways that honor your gift. We often fail to appreciate the gifts you give. And we fail to give you the praise and honor you deserve. Forgive us and help us live in ways that are more generous and honoring of you. In Jesus’ name. Amen!